CBT is a psychological treatment approach that has been applied successfully to a wide range of mental health problems in adults, young people and children. It has received support in over 300 published studies and is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression.
While there are different approaches within the CBT field these all highlight the importance of working on the factors that maintain psychological problems and more emphasis is thus usually placed on addressing here-and-now processes rather than experiences from the person’s past. Some forms of CBT target distortions in the meanings or appraisals people make of their experiences and the related behaviours they adopt to cope with life challenges while others emphasise modifying styles of over-thinking including worry and rumination.
Maladaptive coping behaviours, including avoidance, safety-seeking behaviours and substance misuse, are viewed as central to problem maintenance because they interfere with effective problem solving and emotional regulation as well as blocking exposure to corrective information.
Therapy is collaborative and the therapist and client work closely together as a team focusing on resolving the identified problems. It is based on a thorough assessment of the person’s difficulties and an individual case formulation that seeks to explain the persistence of the person’s difficulties. Interventions are then selected to target these factors with a view to restoring normal psychological functioning. Home practice and application of the techniques learned in therapy is viewed as central to change..